Background

Under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 government entities - such as schools and libraries - must make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. The U.S. Government recently signed a new rule under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that covers digital inclusion. This rule clarifies what schools and libraries need to do to make their website and mobile applications accessible to everyone.

Federal Laws & Guidance

RAILS Resources for Libraries

Guidance from Ancel Glink Regarding Discrimination Complaint

Following Secretary Giannoulias’ meeting with RAILS public library directors on April 22, RAILS was made aware of a complaint shared by the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education related to alleged discrimination based on disability. Specifically, these complaints are related to a library’s website and whether that web experience is equal to the opportunities afforded to those without disability. Similar complaints were received by at least two public libraries in Illinois, and it was relayed that the complainant may intend to file against other Illinois public libraries in the future.

RAILS requested that Ancel Glink, our legal partner, address the recent digital access discrimination complaints against libraries. In a memorandum, Ancel Glink outlines the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education (“OCR”) complaint process, OCR investigations, and OCR resolutions of complaints including settlements and mediation, and more.

This is intended to be a general support for this process, and libraries are encouraged to work with their own legal counsel should they receive a similar complaint.

Discounts/Member Offers & Opportunities

Member libraries have reached out to RAILS about securing advantageous pricing for resources related to accessibility compliance for library websites. We are actively pursuing potential opportunities and will post new deals here and on the RAILS Deals & Discounts page.

RAILS Events (Upcoming and Recorded)

Upcoming

RAILS Member Update
New date! Thursday, June 6, 10-11 a.m.
RAILS welcomes all staff at all levels from all types of RAILS libraries (academic, public, school, and specialized) to join the RAILS Member Update on Zoom. This event will include a presentation on digital accessibility for libraries by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign ADA IT Coordinator Keith Hays. This event will be recorded.

RAILS Webinar: The Modern eAccessibility Landscape
Wednesday, June 12, 10–11 a.m.
This highly interactive webinar includes information on processes and outcomes of the work of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Make your library less vulnerable to eAccessibility complaints by learning what a library needs to do to create and maintain an accessible digital footprint.

Discuss how content creators play a big role in compliance; learn how screen reading software interprets digital material for users; talk about equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility functions for visually impaired users on the web; and more! This event will be recorded.

Recorded

Design for Access-Making Online Content Accessible (L2 login required)
September 8, 2022
Librarian and technologist Jessamyn West will discuss the social model of disability and universal access with a focus on website accessibility. She will offer clear resources and tips for helping libraries make their "born digital" content as accessible as possible without breaking the bank.

Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPATs)

RAILS VPAT Repository
To ensure libraries meet web accessibility standards when purchasing electronic resources, many vendors offer a VPAT – Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, which can aid in assessing how the product meets Section 508. RAILS maintains a repository of VPATs. These are available for all RAILS libraries.

Other Resources

Continuing Education Events

ALA eLearning Webinar: Introduction to Web Accessibility and Usability
Wednesday, May 15, 1:30-3:00 p.m.
Thursday, May 16, 1:30-3:00 p.m.
Are you concerned that your library's website isn't meeting accessibility standards? That your site doesn’t meet the usability needs of your population? Lawsuits surrounding accessibility failures are increasing, and libraries do not have immunity. This webinar introduces library staff to accessibility and usability and what they mean for libraries legally and conceptually.

In this two-part event, web design and usability expert Laura Solomon will provide concrete first steps you can take to prevent and fix website issues that can significantly impact users with disabilities. You’ll also talk about important usability principles that will help make your site more user-friendly.

Free Resources

Paid Resources